My Neighbour, The Terrorist

Pardon my jumbled up thoughts, but I have been thinking a lot about last Wednesday in London.

There are so many stories going around about the latest ‘terrorist’ attack in London, on the Houses Or Parliament, in Westminster.

Within hours, homes in Birmingham and London were raided and 8 arrests were made. A name was given for this ‘terrorist’ who had been shot and killed by police. ISIS claimed responsibility.

No one can say the British Government didn’t step up and act ASAP.

However…

All those arrested were released.

The named ‘dead terrorist’ was actually alive and well behind bars. It wasn’t long before the real name was revealed. A man born pretty local to where I now live as it happens.

 

Two images of Khalid Masood

Attacker Khalid Masood

 

The next step was to find out who had radicalised him while he had been in prison because that was what had to have happened.

Today, I read that the authorities can find no links to any terrorist groups. No evidence to suggest that this guy was planning another attack. And they were forced to admit that though it would be good to know what prompted it, they have to face the reality that they may never know why the Wednesday attack happened.

It is likely that a slightly unbalanced person was swayed by the preachings of some radical groups, and decided to take matters into his own hands. There may have been other reasons. He may have had personal issues… and the pressure sent him a bit loopy, causing the attack… who knows.

It is such an awful situation for the families of the victims. No rhyme nor reason to why they are now sat in grief.

But what a great opportunity for those that like to stir. It has to be ISIS. It must be Islamic terrorists. Get these Muslims out of our country!

Seriously?

Those that knew the attacker, Khalid Masood (born Adrian Russell Elms) said he was somewhat violent and had served time in prison for knife crimes, but could be a polite person. No real evidence of when he converted to Islam.

It all got me thinking.

I know of a convicted terrorist.

And even to this day, I find it hard to believe that this guy had a hand in planning something that could have been so horrific.

Going back to 1998, I remember a phone call from my mother, asking if I had seen the newspaper that day. I duly went out, bought it and called mum back. There was an article about 5 men who had been arrested in Yemen on suspicion of planning a bomb attack on the British Consulate, and a church.

“Ritu, have you looked at the pictures? That’s not Samad, is it?” my mum inquired.

I glanced at the photos, and there, in a really grainy photo was a familiar face. I confirmed what she had said.

Image result for samad ahmed yemen

This was a boy who was not only a neighbour of ours, he and his family were patients of my Pops while he was a practising dentist. But not only that, he had been at my university, a couple of years my junior.

I hadn’t really known him while living in Birmingham, before university, but it was just chance that as a fellow Brummie, and more senior student, I got chatting to him during one of the fresher week events in his first year.

He was a charming lad. So bubbly and full of fun. He was also not a strict follower of Islam at the time, going out with his mates and drinking etc. He was your average university student, enjoying all the fun of being away from home!

We found out that he lived down my road back home, and that he know my parents, and that was enough to forge a big sister/little brother bond. In the holidays, he had a security guard job in a store in Birmingham City Centre and if I ever went there and he was working he would always have a chat.

But one day, during term time, something awful happened.

There had always been clashes between the religious groups withing the universities. Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, they can clash, and our university was no different. I had witnessed some horrific fights after a night out that stemmed from the religious hatred.

Samad and his friends went out somewhere. His best friend was with them. Sometime in the evening, an altercation happened. I wasn’t there, I don’t know many details, but the culmination of the event was that his best friend was killed in the fight.

Understandably, the fun loving guy we all knew changed. Samad rarely had a smile on his face. He was depressed. So down.

And that’s when I think something happened. He found God.

Now I am not condemning finding your God when in times of distress. Many people do, and that belief saves them.

But this was different. He found God through some radical group. The Samad I knew started to wear the traditional dress and became more serious. He still was polite and spoke to me, but he was not out in the evenings like before, and there wasn’t the jovial nature there anymore.

I graduated soon after,  so didn’t see him anymore, and didn’t think much about him.

But a year later, this phonecall from mum… and I looked back at what I remembered of him.

This was so unlike the Samad I knew. Then it hit me. When you are down, and vulnerable, it is so easy to become consumed by whatever appears to be soothing you at the time. There must have been some sort of grooming in place, that, I don’t know, brainwashed him. I couldn’t believe that the lad I knew could even be capable of planning something so heinous as a terrorist attack.

His family, along with the other captives families, pleaded for their release. Samad’s brother spoke at length about how his brother was no terrorist. But they were convicted in the end. There was foul play at work. They had all been involved in the planning of something that could have been awful.

But my mind still boggles.

Terrorists and radical followers of any religion are not born. They are made.

No religion dictates the violent destruction of another creed. It just takes that minority to find a line within any holy text, and manipulate it, then locate a group of misguided, vulnerable folk who need guidance, preaching to them about what their God tells them to do and Boom! You breed a band of extremists who blindly follow this incorrect belief.

This, in turn, reflects badly on a whole majority of the religion, who wholeheartedly condemn the actions of these radical groups. and racism and hatred is born.

I never knew what happened to Samad after. As far as I know, he was released a few years later, but we never saw him again. But I still stand firm in the belief that someone took advantage of his vulnerability at his time of need, and instead of supporting him and guiding him correctly, they gave him the support he felt he needed and led him down a much more sinister path…

Similarly, was Khalid Masood simply led astray by watching propaganda from some of these groups, then acting on what he felt he was being instructed to do? Or was he simply an unhinged man who saw no rhyme nor reason the day he ploughed his car into a group of people on the bridge, then went on to stab a police officer? An attack that led to the death of 5 in total,  and many in critical condition in hospital.

What are your thoughts on terrorists, and why they commit the atrocities they do?

My interactive peeps!

Peeps are reading in…

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